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It’s important to visit local galleries as well as the big London ones. North House Gallery in Manningtree, Essex is an absolute gem. As well as being a beautiful Georgian building housing the most luscious print room stuffed with tall drawers full of metal printing letters and several magnificent Victorian printing presses, it has an ancient brick floor and original windows looking out onto a gloriously unkempt courtyard garden. There are 3 rooms where the artwork is always tastefully displayed, plus a large browser which is full of Norman Ackroyd prints.

Today’s PV of Sara Lee Roberts paintings attracted me and my visit proved extremely worthwhile. This series of portraits of Surrealist artists made me wonder if I couldn’t resurrect my portrait series of MA students?

It’s a thought. I need to find my own visual method of capturing the essence of the subjects as Roberts has done here.

The minimal detail and the unifying colour at this early stage seemed to say more about the characters than later when they were approaching completion. I might see if I can recapture this phase.

It was interesting talking with Sara Lee Roberts about her work. We agreed that the moment when a painting is finished is so hard to judge. Much easier to spot looking at other people’s work than your own.

Her versions of sections of famous paintings were quite different from some of her acrylic red and black abstracts, yet she says they have a relationship with the portraits creating ‘new and distinctive hybrids’.

This sensitive portrait is her version of a small section of a Watteau painting. I think the unfinished section on the left on a separate board adds to the mystery of the whole and balances the head.

There was much to learn from observing the work and the variety of materials and techniques she employs.